Nothing wrong with Trump’s immigration ban, according to Australian MPs in multicultural seats

The President has signed a series of executive orders in his first days, relating to Obamacare, illigal immigration and the refugee program. Source: AAP

Federal MPs in Liberal-held electorates with large numbers of residents born in the seven countries listed in Donald Trump's new Executive Order have offered no criticism of the move.

US President Donald Trump’s move to tighten immigration controls in the US has been described as “divisive and wrong” by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May stated she “does not agree” with it.

However, criticism from Australian federal government MPs has been scarce - even from those in seven of the country’s most multicultural seats.

Approximately 120,000 Australian residents may be impacted by the new Executive Order after Prime Minister’s Malcolm Turnbull suggested on Monday cases of Australian dual nationals being denied entry to the US were a consideration.

The Order blocks access to the US for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It is still unclear about whether it will apply to Australian dual nationals, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirming Australia is pushing for an exemption.

"We have not seen any cases of [the Order affecting Australian dual nationals],” Mr Turnbull said this afternoon.

"If cases do arise, we will take them up with the Government.”

119,000 Australian residents - including 81,000 Australian citizens - were born in one of the seven countries affected, according to the 2011 Census.

One Liberal voice critical of the move has been Trent Zimmerman, MP for North Sydney, who told Sky News that the US needs to uphold values of democracy and tolerance to set an example for the rest of the world.

"I think the US Government needs to look at its own actions through that prism and the type of message it’s sending around the word," he said.

Mr Zimmerman was also critical of the implementation of the Order and the confusion it has caused.

In contrast, government MPs in seats with at least 1,400 residents born in the seven countries affected did not offer criticism over the so-called immigration ban. 

The federal electorate of Hughes in NSW is home to around 960 Iraq-born and around another 500 born in the other six countries. 

Liberal MP for Hughes, Craig Kelly, said some media reporting of the Executive Order had been misleading and pressed that it was not a permanent order.

"The reasons for this Order is so they can review the vetting process for the allocation of visas to people from those countries,” he said.

Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly.
Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly. (AAP)

He said the causes for the inflammatory response to the Order, which has included protests at American airports over two days, had been more the fault of the media than Mr Trump.

He was particularly critical of descriptions of the policy as a “Muslim ban” and he pointed out the ban didn't apply to "90 per cent" of the world's Muslims.

In December 2015, Mr Trump called for a shutdown of Muslims entering the US.

Mr Kelly said the Order discriminated on the basis of nationality - not religion or ethnicity - in a similar way to all current vetting regimes, even Australia’s.

"If someone was going to get [an Australian] visa from Yemen, they would have significant difficulties in doing so," he said.

Mr Turnbull had earlier claimed "our commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration program is well known”.

Tanya Plibersek, Labor deputy leader, was critical of the Order.

“It’s very important that policies, immigration policies - all Government policies - are not based on race or religion or ethnic background or country of origin,” she said.

“Flat-out discrimination based on religion, ethnicity or country of origin has never served us well."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (right) walking with Steve Irons MP for Swan at Lathlain Oval, Saturday, Aug, 22, 2015.
Steve Irons (left), MP for Swan, with Tony Abbott in 2015.

Steve Irons, the MP for Swan in WA, counts almost 2,000 residents in his electorate born in one of the seven countries.

The US manages its immigration arrangements "was a matter for them", he said.

"President Trump is implementing what he said he would do if he were to be elected."

Bradfield, on Sydney’s northern suburbs, is home to 1,400 people born in Iran.

Local MP and Urban Infrastructure Minister, Paul Fletcher, said he had no further comments to add to the remarks already made by the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on behalf of the government.

Turnbull airport
Malcolm Turnbull with Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher (left) on Monday, in December 2016.

Bennelong, adjacent to Bradfield in Sydney, has sizeable groups of residents born in Syria and Iran.

Liberal backbench MP John Alexander
Liberal backbench MP John Alexander.

SBS News was told local MP John Alexander was "not available" for comment today.

Alex Hawke
Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
SBS News

The Mitchell electorate of Alex Hawke, Assistant Minister for Immigration, is home to more than 1,000 people born in Iran. He was not available for comment, as he is with his wife Amelia who is expecting their second child this week. Although he did post on his Facebook page on Monday afternoon.

Michael Keenan
Justice Minister Michael Keenan on a visit to China. (AAP)

The Stirling electorate in WA has more than 2,000 residents born in the seven countries subject to the Order. Local MP Michael Keenan, Minister for Justice, was flying today.

Craig Laundy
Assistant Minister for Industry, Craig Laundy. (AAP)

In Reid, in Sydney, there are around 800 Iraq-born residents and approximately 1,000 more born in the remaining six countries. MP Craig Laundy, Assistant Minister for Industry, was in meetings today.

SBS News has requested comments from Mr Keenan and Mr Laundy this evening.

None of the four unavailable for comment today have publicly criticised the Order since it was signed on Saturday.

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